YAWP: An Homage to Ginsberg in These Times

YAWP: An Homage to Ginsberg in These Times

By Don Hall

I'm no poet. While this is true, it is likewise true that I love poetry and, from time to time, indulge in the urge to write some. If you're really interested, you can go on Amazon and buy a book of my poetry. As I started to search for the thread of the idea behind the piece below, it kept bringing me back to Ginsberg's Howl. It is National Poetry Month, so I went with it.


I see the best minds of my generation and those who came later destroyed by a naked need for likes and shares,
Desperate for recognition, for acknowledgement, amidst a cacophony of voices and grievances and joys,
In between the photos of food and kittens and pandas, overwhelming the sense of shared living comes the far-reaching cries of injustice,
But not just injustice, unfairness that used to blanket a whole-cloth sense of humanity as a semi-unified body but now is chopped and scrapped into individual pieces of personal offense and perceived pain.

In a quasi-comatose stupor, in a half-hearted attempt to see the world through digital retinas, these best and brightest are mired in the soup of the mediocre and below average,
Some leverage the noise, shoving their cyber-vocal chords through the mist into a larger sense of communication but for naught as the double-edged sword of misinterpretation and cognitive bias taints even the truest words typed upon a tiny screen and sent into the ether.

The city is a mirror image of the online world they navigate,
Too many people with too many issues all clamoring to be heard and understood and given preference,
Impersonal glances, cold stares, ready to prejudge one another with only immediate perception to prejudge one another by,
These naked and exposed bodies, these cloistered and hidden minds, these avatars of existence colliding on subways and in convenience stores and in line at the bank,
The city is in so many ways merely a shadow of the seemingly real existence in cyberspace.

I see yet others, living far from the cityscape, isolated from the noise and filth,
In the heartland, the Bible Belt, the vast areas far away from the rats and vagrants and those beautiful melanin peoples,
These slowly decaying bones of the skeleton of the country, watching the rest of us through the lens of the FOX,
Experiencing an overload of city life via that pervasive and putrid screen,
Watching the law abuse the blacks and browns, labeling them terrorists and mongrels,
The bleeding hearts of the media branding them as too stupid to understand the world on their own terms and pretending that the mirror of the city is really the city.

The immigrant, the fuck boi, the bro, the sorority sister, the soccer mom, the bank retail manager, the kid who delivers your Amazon box,
All become incarnations of branding. The Expert on Undocumented Youth, the Relationship Guru, the Conspiracy Theorist, the Instagram Bikini Model, the Home Chef, the Workout King, the Anonymous Hacker.
In the carbon copy of reality, each of us becomes someone else, someone more important, someone to pay attention to in a high school pageant where attention is the tiara we crave.
As the City of Facebook continues to divide, like the Warriors in the Walter Hill joint, each adopts a gang: the White Pride Boys, the Queer and Proud X, the Leftist Army of Identity Fetishists.
Martin, Malcolm, and Bobby never saw this amount of segregation happening.

Long after my flesh has gone the way of soil and ash,
This surreal digitized version of ourselves will be gone as well and what will be left will be a sad judgment of who we pretended to be and how we posed and flexed for our cameras,
The false power of popularity and notoriety and quasi-fame exercised in the careless destruction of lives for pettiness and avarice.
It is those who come much later who will determine our sin and we will not be seen as we saw ourselves.

We will be seen as narcissistic monsters unable to look away from our faux city, unable to see those surrounding us, unable to see.

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Notes from the Post-it Wall — Week of April 15, 2018

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